Brazil and the USA on 3 February signed agreements on extending the operation and generating capacity of unit 1 at the Angra nuclear power plant, as well as for cooperation in new nuclear technologies.
The agreements were between US-based Westinghouse and Brazilian power utility Eletronuclear, and between the US Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) and the Brazilian Association for the Development of Nuclear Activities (Abdan).
The letter of intent for Angra 1 envisages extending the plant's useful life for another 20 years. The Eletronuclear has already delivered the order requesting the extension to Brazil's National Nuclear Energy Commission (CNEN).
Eletronuclear president Leonam dos Santos Guimarães said the extension project was essential for the future of the company. "We hope that this cooperation programme will be the first in a series of successful initiatives," he said.
US Energy Secretary Dan Brouillete affirmed US interest in participating in the construction of eventual new nuclear plants and uranium exploration, which is currently a state monopoly. The US delegation included representatives from the Energy and International Trade departments of the United States, Framatome, Westinghouse, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, Holtec and others.
Westinghouse and Eletronuclear will work on meeting the requirements of Brazil's nuclear regulator CNEN for authorisation to extend the operating licence of Westinghouse-designed Angra 1 by 20 years to 60 years.
Brouillette said their letter of intent was "the first step" in a process that would "deepen the relationship" between the companies.
Angra 1, a 640MWe two loop pressurised water reactor, started construction in 1971. It was first connected to the grid in 1982 and declared in commercial operation in April 1985.